Microsoft details the user experience and Metro design changes in Windows 8

Zac Bowden

In a new Building Windows 8 blog post from Microsoft, the company have today talked about the redefined user experience in Windows 8, and how it is now easier to use than in previous versions of Windows. The blog post goes into comparing the Windows 8 user experience with previous versions of Windows.

Microsoft have been working ever so hard in making the user-experience in Windows 8 the best that any version of Windows has seen, and to do that, the company have tweaked the visual UI, and made it more easy to use by adding additional features.

For example, Windows 8 is “fast and fluid” with touch on Metro. “Fast and fluid represents a few core things to us. It means that the UI is responsive, performant, beautiful, and animated. That every piece of UI comes in from somewhere and goes somewhere when it exits the screen. It means that the most essential scenarios are efficient, and can be accomplished without extra questions or prompts. It means that things you don’t need are out of the way.”

Roaming is also apparent in Windows 8, allowing you to sync your personal settings and customizations across devices. “Just like the experience of using most websites, you can sign in to your Windows 8 PC using an online account. The account used to sign in to Windows is called a Microsoft account. It can be an existing Windows Live ID (the email address you use for Xbox Live, Hotmail, and most other Microsoft services), or one can be created using any email address you own.”

Microsoft have also heavily focused Windows 8 around touch, but not only with Metro. Windows 8 will include enhanced support for touch on the desktop. “… we do believe that touch is a useful adjunct to mouse and keyboard on the desktop. Historically, a new input method is seamlessly integrated as people learn the best use for it. Context menus, keyboard shortcuts, toolbars, and menus are all different ways of doing the same thing, yet everyone makes their own choice about what works best for them.”

One of the main things people have been looking for on Windows 8 is a redesigned desktop, which is yet to be seen. A new screenshot from the blogpost reveals some new Metro design changes on the desktop, making the UI more similar in both Metro and Aero.

The changes in that screenshot are not apparent in the next public pre-release version of Windows 8, but they will appear in the RTM version.

Microsoft continue to talk about how people will learn to use Windows 8, Microsoft believes that people adapt and move forward. “Throughout the history of computing, people have again and again adapted to new paradigms and interaction methods—even just when switching between different websites and apps and phones.”

Windows 8 will in fact be new to consumers, this is the biggest change in Windows history, for the first time making the Desktop a second home. Metro is first now, and Microsoft is keeping it that way. Microsoft thinks Windows 8 is the start of the future, and they expect future PC’s and software to follow in it’s direction.

“The world changes and moves forward. Windows will continue to change too, as it has throughout its 27-year history.”

Windows has changed throughout it’s years, remember when the Start Button appeared for the first time? It was said that it wouldn’t catch on, but look at it today.

Jumping even further back in Windows history, the Start Button wasn’t even around, Windows focused on windows, funnily enough. You had icons on the desktop, no Star menu, or button. The OS focused on windows.

Windows Vista saw the first change in Windows UI since XP, and introduced a brand new “glass” theme. Microsoft called this Aero, and it is the basis look in Windows Vista and Windows 7. “Aero was designed to help people focus less on the window chrome itself, and more on the content within the window. It draws the eye away from the title bar and window frames, and towards what is valuable and what an app is about.”

In Windows 7, the taskbar had been given a complete feature overhaul and re-design, for the first time in Windows history, the taskbar allowed for pinning, moving and ease.

So, as Microsoft have been saying, we move forward and adapt. Windows has done it before, so why not do it again? Everything needs to change every once in a while, otherwise we’d still be stuck with a Windows 3.1 type UI. How boring would that be?